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Torso of Polyphemus

For Bernhard Andreae

The tuft of chest hair was proof enough for them.
The vast shank of marble, relinquished by the earth,
Its brutish melancholy, this brooding muscle-man
Could only be him: the savage from the wilder myths
About the artful sea-wolf, plaything of Poseidon.
Spliced like a tree trunk he came to the museum,
As though disfigured by an axe.
                                                 What had they done
To the monstrous birth, a real life infant, prepared

In formaldehyde and displayed there as a specimen?
Forehead smashed, where once that one eye stared?
Was this a second chance to whop the Golem Greek,
Like Odysseus’ shock troop back in the day? To blight
The Devil’s handiwork was held to be a Christian deed.
So the Cyclops was left a rump, for fear of the evil eye.

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About the translation:
» Read translator's notes
Poet:
Durs Grünbein
Translator:
Karen Leeder
Original language:
German
Issue:
No.2 2014 - The Constellation

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